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Editors' Picks: Week of July 1–7
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Editors' Picks: Week of July 1–7

By kileyturner
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Every beach bag needs a stunning short story collection. Here are five.
Late Breaking

Late Breaking

edition:Paperback

FINALIST FOR THE 2019 GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD

NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 TRILLIUM BOOK AWARD

NOMINATED FOR THE TORONTO BOOK AWARD

AS HEARD ON CBC'S THE NEXT CHAPTER WITH SHELAGH ROGERS

A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2018

A QUILL & QUIRE BEST BOOK OF 2018

A 49TH SHELF EDITOR'S PICK

Inspired by the work of Alex Colville, the linked stories in K.D. Miller’s Late Breaking form a suite of portraits that evoke the paintings’ looming atmospheres a …

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Use Your Imagination!

Use Your Imagination!

edition:Paperback

A woman becomes obsessed with a story about her family from 1890—when a naked, mute girl stumbled onto their property—and whether or not it really happened. A self-help guru and his chief strategist take their most affluent and unstable clients on a harrowing nature hike that destroys their company. A young convict in a prison creative writing class chronicles the rise and fall of his cellblock's resident peacemaker. A rural neighbourhood becomes obsessed by the coming of a strange and power …

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Something for Everyone

Something for Everyone

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Winner, Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
Winner, Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction
Longlisted, Scotiabank Giller Prize
A Globe and Mail Book of the Year
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
Internationally celebrated as one of literature’s most gifted stylists, Lisa Moore returns with her third story collection, a soaring chorus of voices, dreams, loves, and lives. Taking us from the Fjord of Eternity to the streets of St. John’s and the swamps of Orlando, these stories show us the t …

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Excerpt

Orlando, Florida. I’m here with a conference of twenty thousand librarians from all over North America, two weeks after the Pulse massacre. It’s very early; I’m jogging around two big, olive-coloured ponds and not a breath of wind, an empty eight-lane highway between the ponds and I’m on the median.

A lizard skitters over the curb and across the highway. It goes in fast-forward but there are glitches. Stops. Goes, stops. Darts. A jellied quivering. The long thin body is still, but the legs. You can’t even see the legs in the bald light. Just a blur of motion.

There are squiggles of fluorescent spray-paint here and there on the sidewalk in pink, orange, and lime. They’re construction directives, targets for jackhammers, indicating the location of water or sewage pipes beneath the concrete, positions for embedded spigots, underground tunnels for workers and who knows what else — bog people, muskets, cannonballs, arrowheads. I took two planes to get here.

Orlando was retrieved from the swamp by a wily entrepreneur who set up dummy companies to purchase the land cheap. A hundred thousand people work in the theme parks here, vomiting in their oversized cartoon-costume heads because you aren’t allowed to vomit in a theme park. It’s hot in those cartoon heads. You aren’t even allowed to die of heat prostration.

People who die on the parks’ premises are secreted away, whisked from the grounds in unmarked cars and why not? Why not have a zone that death can’t in infiltrate? It costs fabulously to squeeze into these crowds, to belong.

Of course you offer life without death.

You offer furry animals that speak.

When I’m coming around the second pond the sprayers come on and shuffle out sheets of recollected water, the sign says. Water that I don’t want to touch my bare skin because who knows.

It’s not true that the wily entrepreneur is cryogenically preserved. That’s an urban legend. People say just his head in a murky aquarium: mouth open, the lower lip looking grey and nibbled, deteriorating despite the formaldehyde, like he’s developed a cold sore, and a five o’clock shadow, because hair still grows in death. Sometimes the head burps and a wobbling bubble escapes a corner of the mouth. A fold-encrusted eyelid utters. But that is just the underwater air infiltration.

This place is where the GoFundMe stage-four cancer children come to fulfill a bucket list. The parks around here specialize in reconstituting hearts — break ’em, put ’em back together. The white beluga in the aquarium will do it for you, all by itself. Defibrillate your soul. The ghostly mammal emerges from the murk, tail dragging because of a low-grade fugue.

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The Dark and Other Love Stories

The Dark and Other Love Stories

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
Winner of the 2018 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards - Fiction - The Diamond Foundation Prize
Nominated for the 2018 OLA Evergreen Award
Energized, irreverent, novelistic stories full of longing, strange humour, and the complications of human entanglement from Governor General’s Award nominee Deborah Willis

The characters in these thirteen masterful and engaging stories exist on the edge of danger, where landscapes melt into dreamscapes and every …

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Excerpt

She got a boyfriend, which surprised her—
she hadn’t realized she wanted one. He was a mill boy she met while sitting by herself at the marina’s outdoor restaurant, waiting for her steak dinner. She’d learned this from her mother: a good way to meet people was to take yourself out for dinner.
     The young man fished on the weekends, and was cleaning his catch, slicing salmon and extracting their spines. She saw him notice her. Then he approached and offered her a fish wrapped in newspaper, the way another man might offer a bouquet of roses. “I like a girl with an appetite,” he said.

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Frying Plantain

Frying Plantain

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories …

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Excerpt

From “Pig Head”
On my first visit to Jamaica I saw a pig’s severed head. My grandmother’s sister Auntie had asked me to grab two bottles of Ting from the icebox and when I walked into the kitchen and pulled up the icebox lid there it was, its blood splattered and frozen thick on the bottles beneath it, its brown tongue lolling out from between its clenched teeth, the tip making a small dip in the ice water.
My cousins were in the next room so I clamped my palm over my mouth to keep from screaming. They were all my age or younger, and during the five days I’d already been in Hanover they’d all spoken easily about the chickens they strangled for soup and they’d idly thrown stones at alligators for sport, side-eyeing me when I was too afraid to join in. I wanted to avoid a repeat of those looks, so I bit down on my finger to push the scream back down my throat.
Only two days before I’d squealed when Rodney, who was ten like me, had wrung a chicken’s neck without warning; the jerk of his hands and the quick snap of the bone had made me fall back against the coops behind me. He turned to me after I’d silenced myself and his mouth and nose were twisted up as if he was deciding whether he was irritated with me or contemptuous or just amused.
“Ah wah?” he asked. “Yuh nuh cook soup in Canada?”
“Sure we do,” I said, my voice a mumble. “The chicken is just dead first.”
He didn’t respond, and he didn’t say anything about it in front of our other cousins, but soon after they all treated me with a newfound delicacy. When the girls played Dandy Shandy with their friends they stopped asking me to be in the middle and when all of them climbed trees to pluck ripe mangoes, they no longer hung, loose-limbed, from the branches and tried to convince me to clamber up and join them. For the first three days of my visit, they’d at least tease me, broad smiles stretching their cheeks, and yell down, “This tree frighten yuh like how duppy frighten yuh?” Then they’d let leaves fall from their hands onto my hair and laugh when I tried to pick them out of my plaits. I’d fuss and grumble, piqued at the taunting but grateful for the inclusion, for being thought tough enough to handle the same mockery they inflicted on each other. But after the chicken, they didn’t goad me anymore and they only approached me for games like tag, for games they thought Canadian girls could stomach.
“What’s taking you so long?” My mother came up behind me and instead of waiting for me to answer, leaned forward and peered into the icebox, swallowing hard as she did. “Great,” she whispered. “Are you going to be traumatized by this?”
I didn’t quite know what she meant — but I felt like the right answer was no, so I shook my head. My mother was like my cousins. I hadn’t seen her butcher any animals, but back home she stepped on spiders without flinching, she cussed out men who tried to reach for her in the street, and I couldn’t bear her scoffing at me for screaming at a pig’s head.
“Eloise!” Nana called. My grandmother came into the kitchen from the backyard and stood next to us, her hands on her hips. The deep arch in her back made her breasts and belly protrude, and the way she stood with her legs apart reminded me of a pigeon.
“I hear Auntie call out she want a drink from the fridge. That there is the freezer yuh nuh want that. Yuh know wah Bredda put in there? Kara canna see that, she nuh raise up for it.”
“I closed the lid,” said my mother. “Anyway, it was a pig’s head. It’s not like she saw the pig get slaughtered. She’s fine.”
“Kara’s a soft one. She canna handle these things.”
I felt my mother take a deep breath in and I suddenly became aware of all the exposed knives in the kitchen and wondered if there was any way I could hide them without being noticed. We were only here for ten days and my mother and Nana had already gotten into two fights — one in the airport on the day we landed, the other two nights after — and Auntie had threatened to set the dogs on them if they didn’t calm down.
“Mi thought Canada was supposed fi be a civilized place, how yuh two fight like the dogs them? Cha.”
I wondered if all daughters fought with their mothers this way when they grew up and started to tear up just thinking about it. Nana looked at me.
“See? She ah cry about the head.”
“It’s not about the head,” said my mother. “She just cries over anything.”
“Like I say. She a soft chile.”

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